Theron Hobbs, Jr. describes himself as a bridge-builder. He doesn’t mean bridges in a physical sense, but rather the bridges he builds everyday between families in his community and the resources they need to succeed.
Hobbs previously worked as a pastor and recently took a position as the Community School Coordinator at Lovejoy Elementary School. “In any school, you have the students and the staff,” said Hobbs. “But what comes with that are the families of the students and the surrounding community. To have a really healthy community, you need all those entities to support one another and honor one another.”
Hobbs and his wife, Danielle, have been married for 15 years and have one 12-year-old son, Theron III. “The reason we moved to this area was to be closer to the community he was trying to impact, so we could impact the community as part of the community,” explained Danielle.
Lovejoy Elementary School is located on the Southside of Des Moines. According to Des Moines Public Schools data, about 86 percent of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced lunch and almost 60 percent of students are considered “at-risk” when it comes to academic progress. Multiple studies have proven that food insecurity and the lack of basic needs being met at home greatly affect a child’s performance in school. It’s hard to focus in class when you’re hungry and wondering where and when you’ll get your next meal.
Hobbs works hard to make sure the needs of his students and their families are met. He oversees the elementary school’s food pantry, clothing closet and laundry room. He plans and runs everything from clothing drives to fundraisers to stock the food pantry. He also teaches kids how to budget their money when they come to the food pantry. Every child at the school receives a food allowance and can choose how to spend it for their families. The laundromat is open two days a week to students’ families and supplies are provided at no cost to them.
“[My job] is to bridge a gap,” said Hobbs. “If there is something the students need, what can we get from the staff or community? But then how do we pour it back into the community? We all need each other. At the end of the day, it gives me the opportunity to serve people in a very tangible, and hopefully meaningful, way.”
To serve the community outside of school hours, Hobbs and his wife open their home to anyone who needs a space to feel safe and to engage with others in the area. “We’re very community-oriented,” said Hobbs. “I don’t think it’s enough to just live in a community, you have to be part of the community. And being part of the community is stepping out there and also the reciprocity of having people come into your home.”
When they moved into their house after making the move to Des Moines, they realized there was a lot of work that could be done to make their home more welcoming.
“[We knew] there was a lot we needed to do [on the house],” said Hobbs. “We didn’t know where the resources would come from. We want our home to not just be a center for us, but to be welcoming and engaging to people and families in our community so when they come to the door, they feel at peace.”
Enter Jen de Bruin. Her friendship with Hobbs led her to bring his story to the attention of the C21 Impact Board Committee here at Century 21 Signature Real Estate. Hobbs’ story and impact on his students spoke to us and we knew we needed to help his family make their home a welcoming place.
“It is so rewarding to find members of the community who are doing so much for others, despite their own needs,” said Jason Mikkelson, one of the C21 agents on the Impact Board Committee. “Theron and his family are givers! We love that we are able to help equip them with home improvements that will allow them to serve even better in their community.”
The Impact committee donated more than $7,000 to make improvements to the Hobbs’ home. The front porch was structurally unsound, they needed a new sump pump and various changes needed to be made inside the house to make it more open to visitors. So the remodeling team got to work.
Small touches throughout the home were also installed: new light fixtures were put in, all the doors were replaced and doorways raised and new blinds were installed on all the downstairs windows. The entryway was also redone to add vinyl flooring for a new foyer.
“We’re very simple people and very functional people. This makes our home more livable and more welcoming to others and just better,” said Hobbs.
Danielle recalled the remodeling process with the C21 team. “The people who are part of this felt like people. It didn’t seem like we were dealing with a business that was trying to help us. These were people who genuinely cared. We weren’t just a project,” she said.
“For us, as human beings, we felt like people they cared for and wanted to give the best opportunity possible,” said Hobbs. “I think that’s another great benefit. I walked away feeling like it was okay to develop a friendship with some of the people we’ve been able to interact with along this process.”
“I think the word awesome is overused but I can truly say this is an awesome opportunity,” continued Hobbs. “Knowing there was a lot we needed to do [on the house] and not knowing where the resources would come from, it felt like a miracle and an answer to a prayer.
“This is life-changing. I’m sure there are people like us who stay up thinking ‘What can we do to make our home better?’ but with the stress of [knowing] we don’t have it to make it better, so how is it going to be done? It alleviates that burden for people so they can focus on other things in life.”
Hobbs’ philosophy of all the groups in a community lifting each other up for everyone to succeed rang true with us. His values aligned perfectly with our purpose here at Century 21 Signature Real Estate: to put resources back into our local communities to improve peoples’ lives. In fact, Hobbs summed it up best: “I definitely want to use who I am and what I have to be a blessing and a benefit to others.”
Here at Century 21 Signature Real Estate, we’ve made it our purpose to do more than just sell real estate. Our Impact program is an opportunity for C21SRE agents and staff to pool our resources and directly impact and improve the lives of people and families in our communities. The Impact fund is made up of donations from our agents and staff with a 10% match from the C21SRE company. The Impact Board Committee is made up of the broker/owners, six agents, one staff member, and a treasurer. Board members vote on how to distribute funds to local people and families in need and all funds go directly to the chosen recipients.